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Photo Information

Family members watch as Marines and sailors of Regimental Combat Team 8 assemble into one of their final formations here before departing to al Asad, Iraq, Jan. 6. RCT-8, under the command of II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), is on their second deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. (Official U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Joshua Murray) (RELEASED)

Photo by Cpl. Joshua J. Murray

RCT-8 moves forward to Al Asad, Iraq

9 Jan 2009 | Cpl. Joshua J. Murray

Marines and sailors of Regimental Combat Team 8 said goodbye to their loved ones here Jan. 6 as they departed for a scheduled one-year deployment to al Asad, Iraq.

RCT-8 reformed under the command of II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) for their second deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“The Marines have very high morale,” said Col. John Love, the RCT-8 regimental commander. “Regimental Combat Team Eight has not deployed in four years.”

Their last deployment took place from 2005 until 2006 in Baghdad, Iraq. During this deployment, one of the combat team’s accomplishments was securing the city of Fallujah in preparation for the 2005 national elections.

Recognizing the improvements and changes the country has undergone, Love says his Marines have prepared accordingly for their next missions.

“We have been training on our core mission’s essential tasks in the infantry training and readiness manual to carry out our mission in any clime and place— and particularly Iraq,” Love said. “Iraq is just about standing on its own across the board, but we will continue to assist the Iraqi government and security forces.”

Many training exercises took place to make the Marines confident in themselves and in one another.

“We are very prepared to do this,” said Lance Cpl. Robert Turner, an administration clerk with the combat team. “I know that if anything does go wrong it will not have been my training that let me down.”

Marines made last minute adjustments to their gear while spending time with their loved ones. Throughout the crowd, families and friends gave words of encouragement and advice.

“I’m so proud of him,” said Alberta Nichols, the wife of Sgt. Trent Nichols, the head of the Personnel Security Detachment. “He is very dedicated to the Marine Corps and I will support him no matter what happens.”

RCT-8 loaded the buses and set out to continue the mission in Iraq and do whatever is needed to get the job done.

“Another wave of patriots and selfless individuals are going forth— making this sacrifice to serve their nation,” Love said.